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Feel good—be good: subject content and governing processes in physical education
Örebro University, School of Health and Medical Sciences. (SMED - Studies of Meaning making in Educational Discourses)
Örebro University, School of Health and Medical Sciences. (SMED - Studies of Meaning making in Educational Discourses)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8748-8843
2008 (English)In: Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, ISSN 1740-8989, E-ISSN 1742-5786, Vol. 13, no 4, p. 365-379Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: In this paper a study of both subject content and governing processes in Swedish physical education is presented. The reason why an analysis of both content and processes is of special interest is that it makes it possible to understand the encounter between the institutional level and the practice of education.

Purpose: The purpose of the paper is threefold: (1) to analyse the subject content in physical education through identifying discourses embedded in its practice; (2) to illustrate how the subject content is created/re-created in physical education practice through various governing processes; and (3) to discuss how governing processes also become content through the

socialization of students in terms of becoming a certain type of social citizen.

Research design and data collection: The empirical material used is collected in connection with a national evaluation of physical education in Sweden, commissioned by the Swedish Government and the Swedish National Agency for Education. This paper uses local curriculum documents from 72 schools and 15 video-recorded physical education lessons from five schools. A starting point for the methodological framework is discourse theory and the governing perspective developed by Michel Foucault (1978/1991, 1980, 1982/2002). The governing perspective is used as a methodological tool, and we work with two overarching analysis themes: one oriented towards what pupils are governed, in terms of discourses embedded in physical education, and the other how the identified discourses are created/re-created in the practice of physical education. We also use the methodological framework as a tool to discuss how the governing processes also become content—a content of socialization.

Findings: The results show that physical exertion and active participation are the main threads that run though the analysed material. In connection with physical exertion and active participation, pupils are also encouraged to cooperate with others and to compete. The content of socialization is primarily directed towards different components of willingness, for example a will to do one’s best and a will to try, where the pupils are expected to be participatory, take responsibility and govern their own actions in the direction of that which is most reasonable.

Conclusions: A clear message is communicated in physical education in Sweden—be active and work up a sweat. This is also concerned with fostering good character, i.e. creating correct attitudes and approaches through physical activity—be an active and willing person. Physical education is consequently a place where both political volition and the creation of today’s citizens are staged. It is thus not only physical exertion—the physiological effects of exercise and involvement in sports and physical education—that is in the foreground of the activities we study in physical education. It is also about becoming a certain type of social citizen.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Routledge , 2008. Vol. 13, no 4, p. 365-379
Keywords [en]
Physical education, Subject content, Governing processes, Socialization, Discourse
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Sport and Fitness Sciences Social Sciences Social Sciences Pedagogy
Research subject
Sports Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-3640DOI: 10.1080/17408980802353339OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-3640DiVA, id: diva2:137938
Available from: 2008-12-16 Created: 2008-12-16 Last updated: 2018-01-13Bibliographically approved

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Öhman, MarieQuennerstedt, Mikael

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